Structured cabling system

Structured cabling system
Enterprise business relies on IT infrastructure that is running in data centers. These data centers can be located on a company’s own premises or in space rented from colocation or telecom providers. Such facilities can range from small (8-10 racks) to very large (thousands of racks). All racks within these facilities are connected to each other using structured cabling systems.

A fiber optic structured cabling system within a data center is a system that includes cabling, patch panels and the associated connectivity hardware. It provides a physical infrastructure for the different networking technologies that may run within data centers. Although networking technologies may appear in different topologies – whether mesh, tree, ring or others – a structured cabling system is always built using star topology. 

A structured cabling system connects various areas within a data center. Whether in a private enterprise data center or a corporate data center on white space rented from colocation companies, a structured cabling system contains the following areas: Main Distribution Area (MDA), Equipment Distribution Area (EDA) and fiber trunks connecting these areas. Larger data centers may also have additional distribution areas, such as Zone, Horizontal or Intermediate Distribution Areas (ZDA / HAD / IDA).

Every data center has a main distribution area containing a main distribution frame. Smaller data centers have MDAs which can also play the role of a ZDA, HDA or IDA. As the center of a star topology, an MDA may hold core network equipment (switches, routers, SAN fabrics etc.), connectivity to other areas and replication of ports located in the equipment area. 

The Equipment Distribution Area (EDA) of a structured cabling system includes patch panels located in equipment racks. These patch panels play the role of equipment outlets which are used to connect network and server hardware to the structured cabling system. Typically, data center planners choose similar connection methods from the patch panels in the EDA to the ZDA/HDA. This connection method forms the basic link scenario. Using a basic link scenario helps minimise designing time, speed up the calculation of bills of materials and simplify installations. Basic link scenarios vary in the number of fibers, base systems and polarity methods. HUBER+SUHNER supplies various products that can be used in equipment zones and distribution areas and various types of fiber trunks. This enables customers to combine these products to form a basic link for every data center application.

Although it is beneficial to aggregate connectivity from as much equipment as possible in a single space to provide flexible connection options between different equipment, this is not always feasible from a technical perspective. A structured cabling system therefore has a hierarchical structure that provides connectivity from aggregation points to other upper levels of the hierarchy.

There are two ways to connect equipment within distribution zones: interconnect and cross-connect. The cross-connect approach is recommended for data centers with more than 1000 fiber ports in one area, while smaller variants may follow interconnect. The DC cross-connect versus interconnect application note explains the difference between these two methods.

The typical structured cabling system life cycle is around 7-10 years, during which time networking technologies may change 2-3 times. Properly designed systems will serve modern technologies and be capable of supporting future applications. Participating in HUBER+SUHNER data center certified training provides you with more information about planning, installing and commissioning structured cabling systems. It also allows you to get a 25-year warranty certificate for a structured cabling system.

Main distribution frame

Fiber trunks

Data center cable management

SAN components

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